Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Riding the Wave

Looks sort of spooky, doesn't it? What you see is an experiment in progress. I hauled out my FlavorWave countertop oven the other day and I've been busy reacquainting myself with its sunny self. I think I've had it for something like three years but it's been stored ever since I moved in here and it fell victim to the old "out of sight, out of mind" syndrome.

There are several different brands of this type of oven out there. NuWave, Koolatron Total Chef, Morningware Halogen and Super Turbo, to name a few. They all operate pretty much the same, cooking via conductive heat (like your oven), convection (with constantly circulating hot air) and infrared. That's what you see in the photo to the left. The infrared is doing its thing.

I really love this oven. It's great for when you don't want to turn on the regular oven and heat up the kitchen. Also, it uses a lot less electricity, which cannot be a bad thing. For some things it's faster than a regular oven, for others, it takes just as long -- which isn't a problem if you're not in a hurry anyway. It really shines at perfectly cooking meats from a frozen state but it does other things well, too. And there are a few things it can do well only if you figure out the magic formula.

Baked goods, for instance. It seems to be fine if what you're baking isn't going to raise up real tall in the saddle. Don't know yet how it would do with round loaves of artisan bread but I don't think I want to try a regular loaf in there. I do know I can make killer yeast rolls and hamburger buns in it, and biscuits do just fine, thank you. The problem is, there really aren't a lot of recipes available for cooking with these ovens. That seems to be a common complaint with most owners of the little beasties. Which is why I experiment and try to figure out how to adapt regular recipes to the FlavorWave's style of doing things.

I found out it will cook my beloved Yorkshire puddings just beautifully. That was a relief. But today I got to thinking about doing a pudding cake. A lemon pudding cake, to be specific. This is a lovely concoction wherein the batter separates into a light, souffle-like cake on top and a pudding on the bottom. You can make it in a big baking dish or in individual servers, as I did here. Once the two extras cool completely, I'll pop a lid on them and put them in the refrigerator where, I'm told, they'll keep just fine for several days. That is, they would if I didn't eat them first. Wanna guess which it will be?

I did a lot of hunting for this recipe -- which is actually a conglomerate of several -- and I'll lay it out for you the way you'd do it in a regular oven and then, in case you have one of these countertop ovens, I'll 'splain what I did in the FlavorWave. Okay? Okay, this am the way it goes ...

In a bowl, whisk together: 1/2 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Separate 2 eggs. Add the yolks to the flour mixture, along with 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 2/3 cup milk. Whisk until well mixed.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the other mixture. Pour into buttered baking dish (or dishes) and place in larger pan in 350 degree oven. Pour very hot water into outside pan, up to about the halfway level of your baking dish. Bake about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from water bath when done. Can be eaten from baking dish or turned out on serving plate. Good hot or cold.

Note: There is enough batter for a 1 quart (4 cup) baking dish. The individual Corning Ware dishes I'm using hold 2 cups max so I guess I probably put about 1 1/3 cups of batter in each one. Just so you know.

Okay, here's the deal for the FlavorWave version. The whole idea of a water bath for these cakes is to keep the pudding part from cooking too fast and getting too firm. But the FlavorWave's heat source is only at the top. Granted, hot air circulates all around the cooking item but the bottom doesn't cook as fast as the top, which means some things need to be turned over halfway through the cook cycle. With that in mind, I did without the water bath in the Flavorwave, put the puddings on the low rack and set it for 1/2 hour, on High.

There were still 18 minutes left when I gasped and said, "Whoa! These puppies are getting brown way too fast!" Cleared the control window and reset it for 325 degrees and turned it loose again. That seems to have worked just fine. Next time I'll probably do it for maybe a full 45 minutes, given the lower temperature.

I chose to turn my sample pudding cake out onto a plate. As you can see, it's not so pretty. The pudding cooked firm and had to be spooned out. I'll just eat the others right out of their cooking bowls.

As for flavor, oh my stars and garters. The cake part is extremely light and fluffy and the pudding is lemony bliss. One could add whipped cream or ice cream to this dessert but I really think that would be overkill. A sprinkling of fresh berries would be nice, though. Raspberries. Strawberries. Blackberries. Nom, nom, nom!

Note to self: next time, I'm going to try it with only 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup lemon juice. I likes me that lemon.


John Bailey said...

I'm going to check this out, Dee. With domestic fuel (gas and electricity supplies) here scheduled to rise by 40 percent this autumn, devices that use less electricity for the same job appeal to me. And the food sounds yummy, too!

Dee said...

I'm pretty sure NuWave is on your side of the pond, John. Don't know about the others. There have been design changes since my FlavorWave came out -- to the good, I think. If you can filter out the hyperbole, infomercials can be helpful. There is a learning curve but I find it to be more fun than frustrating -- and worth the effort. If you have any questions, give me a holler.

Bonnie said...

Years ago my mom sent a table top oven back with Wil. But it uses water I think to steam stuff. Don't rightly remember as I gave it to daughter and she loves it. She's smarter at figuring out manuals than I am. :-)

Dee said...

Ahh. I wonder what the brand is, Bonnie. Sounds like it operates on a different principal than the type of oven I have. It's good that she's figured it out. Sometimes the manuals that go with these gadgets leave a LOT to be desired. (smile)

CJA said...

Guess you'd love this site then: http://www.foodbanter.com/marketplace/13546-new-flavorwave-forums-have.html
Happy cooking.

Maggie said...

Gee, can I use the microwave? :)

Thanks I'll try this. Look at the UK domestic fuel. 40% up leaves me open mouthed.

Kate said...

Nom, nom, nom! is right! Those look scrumptaluscious!

Dee said...

Oh wow, Wilma! That looks like it'll be a good site. Thank you for the tip.

Maggie, were you asking if the pudding cake could be made in the microwave -- or were you teasing me? (smile) Actually, it probably could. I've made pudding cakes in it before. Guess you could give it a try.

Kate, you're right. They are. Scrumptaluscious, I mean. We do have sympatico tummies, do we not?

Diana said...

I think they are called halogen ovens over here Dee, my daughter has one and she has complained that there aren't many recipes to use in it. I will copy this one out for her!